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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Unexposed Epsom prospects get chance to stake Oaks claims

Astronomy's Choice: course winner in October
1 of 1

4.45 Newmarket
Tweenhills Pretty Polly Stakes | Listed| 1m2f | 3yo fillies | RUK

Qipco 1,000 Guineas favourite Rhododendron also heads the betting for the Investec Oaks and victory in the feature race on Sunday's card at Newmarket would cement that position.

However, the 1,000 Guineas is not the only race with pointers to the Epsom Classic, as four of the six runners in the Pretty Polly hold the Oaks entry.

The 20-1 Ladbrokes offer for Rowley Mile maiden winner Astronomy's Choice makes her the shortest-priced Oaks contender, and trainer John Gosden said: "She's fine and we nominated this race for her after she won her maiden at the track last year, so we're sticking to the plan.

"She's been working nicely but, like many others, she could have done with a shower or two."

Andrew Balding, who enjoyed one of his finest hours when Casual Look won the 2003 Oaks, holds Horseplay in high regard.

A general 33-1 for Epsom, she also has a maiden victory to her name. "She'll be as close to 100 per cent as we can get her at home," said Balding.

"She was very impressive in winning her maiden at Nottingham, when she couldn't have done it any easier. The ground was on the soft side, but there's nothing about her action to say she won’t handle faster conditions."

The Ralph Beckett-trained Isabel De Urbina is in the same boat as that pair, getting going late to score at Ffos Las on her debut in September. 

'Done well over the winter'

"She's done well over the winter," reported Beckett. "She's a very laid-back filly and isn't really bred for middle distances, but the way she trains and works suggest they'll suit her.

"The ground is an unknown, especially as she's by Lope De Vega, but she moves like she wants it fast."

Ouija Board, the Beckett-trained Talent and Taghrooda are recent Pretty Polly winners to graduate to Oaks glory, and Beckett added: "I didn't know Talent was as good as she was when she ran in the Pretty Polly, so in that sense I don't know how good this filly is either, but that's the only comparison at this stage!"

Kazimiera, who is 33-1 for the Oaks, has already run in a Classic trial this season, finishing eighth in the Nell Gwyn over seven furlongs.

"I'm looking forward to this filly stepping up in trip and on pedigree she should get it well," said trainer Charlie Appleby. "If she does get it I think she'll be very competitive."

The Mark Johnston-trained pair Miss Infinity and Teofonic do not have entries in the Oaks, and the trainer said: "Both fillies are stepping up in trip, which should suit Teofonic, but she has something to find on ratings.

"Miss Infinity is top-rated but there's always a chance one of the less exposed fillies might improve past her."

She was very impressive in winning her maiden at Nottingham, when she couldn't have done it any easier
E.W. Terms
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